If hell exists on Earth, it's Delhi: Why John Kerry's boat remark after rains is justified

John Kerry's visit to Delhi is ending the way it started: in a traffic jam, praying for a boat, living a nightmare in a jahannam (hell) called Delhi.

Sandipan Sharma August 31, 2016 13:31:39 IST
If hell exists on Earth, it's Delhi: Why John Kerry's boat remark after rains is justified

Gar jahannam, ruhe zamin ast, hami asto, hamin asto, hamin ast.

John Kerry's visit to Delhi is ending the way it started: in a traffic jam, praying for a boat, living a nightmare in a jahannam (hell) called Delhi.

On Monday, on his way to a hotel from the airport, the US secretary of State was stuck for almost an hour in traffic due to waterlogged roads. On Wednesday, his address to students of IIT-Delhi was delayed by an hour because of an early morning deluge.

If hell exists on Earth its Delhi Why John Kerrys boat remark after rains is justified

Waterlogging is generally a result of choked drains, blocked waterways, faulty roads and unchecked construction. Photo credit: Naresh Sharma

"I don't know how you all got here, you must have needed boats to get here," he said.

The US Secretary of State also had to cancel his scheduled trip to three religious sites in the capital after it rained ferociously on Wednesday morning, according to The Times of India.

He must have been wondering if instead of a strategic alliance with India for use of the country's airbases, the US might have been better off striking a deal for allowing visiting dignitaries to use submarines for navigating through Delhi.

Mughal emperor Jahangir once claimed if paradise exists on Earth, it has to be Kashmir. Had he lived long enough, or born in a different age, he would have argued that if hell existed on Earth, hami asto, hami asto (here) in Delhi.

Thrice in a month this monsoons, Delhi has been brought to its knees by sharp showers. Once could have been lack of preparedness, twice a happenstance, but thrice is abject shame. It is a damning indictment of the city administration, its modern town planners and residents.

Waterlogging is generally a result of choked drains, blocked waterways, faulty roads and unchecked construction. In every world-class city, civic administrators clear the drains, remove impediments from waterways and adjust slopes of roads to avoid flooding and water logging. But, in spite of burning crores on monsoon preparedness, having hundreds of cleaners and administrators, it takes just one shower to expose Delhi's fault lines.

If hell exists on Earth its Delhi Why John Kerrys boat remark after rains is justified

Thrice in a month this monsoons, Delhi has been brought to its knees by sharp showers. Once could have been lack of preparedness, twice a happenstance, but thrice is abject shame. Photo credit: Naresh Sharma

This administrative and civic apathy is typical of Delhi, which, many believe is simply un-liveable. Several years ago, Bahadur Shah Zafar's favourite poet Mohammad Ibrahim Zauq rejected an offer to shift to the Deccan because he felt, kaun jaye Dilli ki galiyan chhod kar (who would leave the streets of Delhi).

Today's Delhi is best avoided. As Firstpost had argued earlier, if you love your life and that of your children, avoid the streets and roads of Delhi.

Delhi's air is the most polluted in the world, half of its children have impaired lung functions. More than 70% of water supplied by Delhi Jal Board is undrinkable; it is contaminated by leakage from sewers. The population has grown from nearly 17.60 lakh 1.8 crore-the highest growth rate for any Indian city-since Independence. Delhi has about 0.05 percent of the India's geographical area but consists 1.38 percent of the nation's population.

Among the Union Territories, Delhi has the highest incidence of rape, crime against women, reveal the latest NCRB data. All metros put together have lesser number of crimes than Delhi.

Every year, it sees an epidemic of one disease or the other. Like a relay race that never ends, a Chikungunya cycle is followed by dengue, which, while leaving, hands over the responsibility of afflicting Delhi to H1N1 (swine flu). Yamuna is as dirty and polluted as ever, its riverbed, instead of being preserved and protected, are being destroyed by NGOs with impunity because of their proximity to power.

There is rampant loot in the city's overcrowded hospitals. Private schools overcharge with impunity. Its people, as the appalling response to an accident victim — he was robbed instead of being helped — in Subhash Nagar shows, its people too have imbibed the morals and ethics of a moribund city.

If hell exists on Earth its Delhi Why John Kerrys boat remark after rains is justified

Delhi needs a concrete plan to make it liveable again. There is an urgent needs to clear its drains, remove encroachments and impediments from water bodies and align roads with the natural flow of water. Photo credit: Naresh Sharma

And, while the Capital hurtles towards a disaster, its administrators indulge in their petty Jung (pun intended), like medieval pindaris and Afghan raiders who descended on the city while it was crumbling after the decline of Mughals.

Delhi needs a concrete plan to make it liveable again. There is an urgent needs to clear its drains, remove encroachments and impediments from water bodies and align roads with the natural flow of water.

It needs a concerted health management system to ward off repeated epidemics of seasonal diseases and the consequential loot by hospitals and labs. It needs a plan to decongest roads, bring down pollution and improve the respiratory health of its citizens, especially the children.

Delhi's policing needs sweeping changes in attitude and techniques to remove the embarrassing tag of it being the crime capital of India. It needs a programme to sensitise its people to the suffering of others, especially those in need of help.

Unless that happens, you won't need to go to Pakistan to witness hell. It is all hami asto, hami asto (here, here, in Delhi).

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